It is natural for dogs to shed their fur, and sometimes even a lot of it. If you see your dog is constantly scratching and biting at its fur or notice fur missing or bald patches on your dog, it could be cause for concern.
Your dog’s coat reflects its health since its skin is the largest organ in the body. The skin and hair together make up the coat, and if you see that the condition of your dog’s fur is not well, there is probably an underlying health issue.
When you notice your dog’s coat looking dull, patches of skin showing, or some bald spots, it’s time to take action. Below you will find some of the common reasons dogs have bald patches and what you can do to help fix them.
What are the Causes of Hair Loss in Dogs?
Many factors cause your dog to lose hair, which includes:
- Seasons are changing (most dogs shed their fur a couple of times per year)
- Allergies (outdoor, food, or contact)
- Ticks, mites, or other irritating bites from insects
- Skin fungus or infection (alopecia)
- Poor nutrition
- Stress and Anxiety
Read on to discover the breakdown of each reason behind the hair loss in your furry friend.
Dogs change out their coats for new seasons, so when you notice a lot of your dog’s hair coming off, it’s not a reason to worry. Instead, it can simply be that a new season is about to come, and your dog’s fur is doing the natural process of shedding. The two seasons that this commonly occurs are Autumn and Spring.
Autumn shedding gives way for dogs to sport their winter coats, and then the winter coat is shed in the Spring for the summertime. You may notice that your dog’s coat in the summer is not as thick as it is in the winter. Hair loss in this fashion is activated by regular hormonal changes and rises or drops in temperature. Your dog’s body will prepare for changing climates.
Your dog may be losing hair and constantly scratching, which could signify an allergy. There are many things dogs have allergies to, from insect bites to food, even contact with grass or dust. You may often see your dog biting at one spot so much that it becomes a bald patch on its skin.
It is beneficial to contact your vet or have an online vet appointment to see what needs to be done to help determine the cause of your dog’s allergy. For example, your vet may have you restrict your dog’s diet or come in for an antihistamine treatment. You may also need to bring your dog in for a more thorough examination and possibly tests to try and determine the cause of the allergen.
Dogs go through hormonal changes such as puberty or pregnancy, sometimes before or after being spayed and neutered. Hormone levels change during this time, leading to your dog having hair loss. Older dogs may also lose more hair due to their hormone levels decreasing.
Unfortunately, this is why bald patches on your dog won’t have a fix. Hormones are a natural reason for dogs to have skin issues, and typically they will resolve themselves. You can treat your dog’s skin with some organic coconut oil to help soften the skin if it looks irritated.
Ticks, Mites, and Other Insects
Ticks, mites, fleas, and other insects that bite your dog can cause your dog to itch and scratch at an area constantly, leading to bald patches and hair loss. Therefore, you should monitor your dog’s coat often, and if you see a tick, you should remove it using special tweezers.
Mites can cause a lot of discomfort for your dog in areas like the ears and armpits. In addition, they make your dog feel very itchy, and when your dog is scratching too often in one place, the skin can open and become infected if it is not treated quickly. If you notice bald spots showing on a site where your dog is scratching a lot or see that your dog has scratched its skin and has an open wound, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Fleas can sometimes cause your dog to scratch and create bald spots. Using a preventative monthly free treatment is highly recommended. Anti-flea shampoos can also help. Ensure that the fleas are not within your home because they can lay dormant.
Skin Fungus, Condition, or Infection
Sometimes seeing bald spots can indicate a skin fungus or infection. For example, dogs can contract yeast infections, which are very contagious and need treatment from your vet as soon as possible. Ringworm is another fungus that can manifest by lots of scratching. You may see your dog’s skin looking thick, crusty, or red with ringworm.
Alopecia is a skin condition that can also show as bald spots on your dog. The bald spots will occur primarily on their back, ears, belly, or head. It is best to consult with your veterinarian, who can diagnose the problem and provide treatment as necessary if you notice these kinds of crusty or red bald spots.
Malnourished dogs can sport a dull coat and have bald spots on their fur. You must take notice of your dog’s nutrition if you start to notice these bald spots, as it could be the result of missing essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Unfortunately, you often will see bald spots on stray dogs for this very reason.
Talk to your vet about your dog’s food and ensure that it gives them the proper nutrition. They may supply you with supplements to help treat hair loss.
Stress and Anxiety
Do you work often and leave your dog home alone? Sometimes bald patches on your dog can be caused simply by stress or anxiety in your dog. If you can’t find an outside reason or medical condition for the skin problem, evaluate whether something significant may have occurred that is causing your dog trauma, such as a move or a new baby.
There could be a medical disease for your dog’s bald patches, and it could be something that was passed down from a parent. In addition, some dogs have a genetic predisposition for reduced hair growth in areas of the body.
Preventing Bald Patches on Your Dog
The best course of action is to monitor your dog’s coat frequently. If you notice any changes or your dog doing a lot of itching, scratching, or biting, you should examine the skin. Keep up with regular flea treatments, and feed your high-quality dog food with enough minerals and nutrients for its coat to stay healthy and shiny.
Prepare your dog for any upcoming situations that may be stressful, and ensure that you are using gentle dog-friendly shampoos when you clean its fur. Then, when all else fails, speak to your veterinarian or bring your dog in for an exam so you can determine the cause of the bald patches.